The overall goal of the zero waste office is to manage and minimize campus waste."
"The office tracks and audits waste metrics, develops strategies to improve sustainable purchasing, and engages with the AU community through education,” explains Li.
The Keep Compost Clean project was one of the zero waste office’s most significant projects during the spring semester. The goal of this project is to minimize compost contamination rates. Li worked with students and staff to design prototypes of bin lids with different shapes and graphics, hoping to educate students and guide should and shouldn’t be composted.
“When waste isn’t sorted correctly, we end up contributing more to the landfills. If contamination is found in a compost bin, the entire bag must be thrown away with the regular trash to prevent further contamination,” explains Li. As such, the zero waste office encourages people to think about the idea of “When in doubt, throw it out!” This can help avoid contamination of an otherwise compostable bag of waste.
“Students responded well to the graphic designs on bin lids,” says Li. In the fall, the zero waste office and the Keep Compost Clean project team will assess the bin lid prototypes' data, make adjustments, and test new bin locations on campus.
While Li is passionate about contributing to AU’s ongoing sustainability efforts, she hopes to work within the built-environment industry upon graduation. “I want to continue focusing on finding creative approaches to sustainability,” says Li.
Sustainability is multi-faceted; it connects many dots and extends far beyond the environment. Sustainability can drastically improve a building’s efficiency, people’s well-being, business growth, and is a topic at the center of social justice.”
Li is currently using her background in design and sustainability to make a difference in the larger DC community through her summer internship with Gensler. At Gensler, Li focuses on sustainable building projects and hopes to learn more about business change management in transition to a more inclusive and people-centered work environment.
“I strongly believe in the benefits that community involvement can bring to education. I highly recommend that students participate with campus organizations and offices in addition to off-campus opportunities that aid the greater DC and global community,” says Li.
“Kogod’s MS in sustainability management program encourages students to explore and flourish. Don’t be afraid to dive into new topics; rest assured, your classmates will also bring many interesting points of view to class!” says Li.